Back to the doctor we went today, with my coughing, choking boys. As usual, the minute we entered the office, all symptoms subsided, and not a cough was to be found. The doctor checked them over thoroughly, listened to lungs, checked temperatures, looked in ears and throats and was about to send us on our way again. Then Iain was struck with a coughing spasm. Liam followed in suit shortly, and as soon as he heard them, things changed. We left the office shortly, after a nose swab test for pertussis (read: whooping cough), with prescriptions for antibiotics in hand. Although they can't be sure this is what the boys have, it seems likely from their symptoms, and it makes sense based on the fact that Neil has had his cough for so long, and doesn't seem to be getting better, even after antibiotics. The boys started their antibiotics today, and are to be "quarantined" for the next five days while they take the course of it, at which time they will not be contagious anymore. It is highly contagious, but my one consolation is that we have laid very low the last several weeks. If you are one of the unfortunate people who we've crossed paths with lately, please do see a doctor right away if you develop a cough! Unfortunately, while the antibiotics will remove the contagion factor, it will do little to help the symptoms, which will progressively get worse before they get better, and can last for weeks, or even up to months. It looks like we're in for a rough time. Of course it makes me worried for the boys, especially little Liam. Although nothing has changed in their condition since this morning, knowing what it is makes every cough seem worse, every spasm seem longer. I've read all the doctor's handouts, scoured the internet, and looked over my parenting books, and from all I can see, there are lots of "worst case scenarios".
We have chosen to delay vaccinations for the boys, which I know is a hotbed for discussion, a big can of worms, and a debate all unto itself. Our biggest reason for delaying stems from Iain's medical history; after he was born, as we were doing some research about this type of thing, we felt strongly that we didn't want to expose him to possible vaccine side-effects (such as seizures) that he are already stands a greater chance of being susceptible to because of his brain anomaly. Then, when Liam was born, we decided to follow the same course with him. Although there are some vaccinations that we probably won't be getting, the boys will eventually get most, although we are choosing to do it on a delayed and spread-out schedule. But currently, both boys are unvaccinated against pertussis. Which is certainly enough to make any mom second-guess that particular decision, and feel like a terrible parent. Although there are overwhelming cases of vaccinated kids catching pertussis now, seeing my boys gasping for breath is enough to make me worry that something we tried to do "for the good of the boys", was not in their best interests. We didn't make our decision lightly, and after much agonizing and debating, we did what we thought was best. There are, of course, "what-ifs" on the other side of the coin as well; if we'd vaccinated our seizure-prone infant and he'd ended up with seizures as a result, I'm sure we'd have been second guessing that decision as well. But I absolutely hate knowing that something I chose not to do could have prevented this.
Basically, this whole situation has hit me in the face with a reminder that this parenting gig is never an easy one. Every decision we make as parents has consequences, and the wisdom we need is unimaginable. I really don't know how people do it. We are very worried right now. These two little boys mean more to us than anything in the world, and everything we do is for them. If you're a praying person, we'd appreciate your prayers that our boys would heal quickly and thoroughly. That no complications would develop, and that both boys (and little Liam in particular, as whooping cough is more serious in young children) would be able to breathe properly and not end up in the hospital. That Neil and I would have the strength and wisdom to get through this ordeal.